Are you dreading all the sweets and not-so-healthy dishes that show up every year between Halloween and New Years?
If so, you need a holiday survival plan!
Let's face it, we will be surrounded by all kinds of pound-packing holiday goodies over the next couple months...not to mention the stress from all of the shopping, cleaning, baking and wrapping!
What would you think if we said most people typically gain 7-10 pounds over the holiday season?
Good news! It's actually FALSE!
Most people only gain one pound. The bad news is it typically sticks around, and then adds up year after year!
We want to help!
We’re sharing some holiday survival tips with “treats” for healthier party choices, “sneaks” to maintain your exercise plan and “cheats” to reduce stress, especially shopping-related stress.
First and most important, remind yourself that it’s SO much easier to maintain now than to lose later. And, it is possible to enjoy without overdoing it! So, let’s get started…
How to Manage the Holiday Party Treats:
- Use a plate! Be mindful and aware of how much you are eating. Make yourself a rule: everything goes on a plate. This will help keep you from unconsciously eating half the cheeseball. Make it a small plate for even better results! Even if you go back for seconds, two small plates is better than grazing next to the food table.
- Think “Halve it and you can HAVE it!" This will still let you enjoy your favorite treats without overdoing it. Yes, it is ok to enjoy and just take just half of something!
- Balance a splurge with veggies. Veggies are truly the calorie “neutralizer” you need! Try to make at least half your plate a rainbow of veggies. Just be careful not to overdo it with the dip and the veggies drowning in cheese!
- Eat like a toddler. You know...don't let your foods touch! This is an easy and surefire way to keep your servings from becoming too big.
- Think before you drink! Go slow on eggnog, wine, beer, cider, fruit punch and sugary drinks. Instead, choose club soda or sparkling water with a splash of punch or fruit juice, mineral water, diet soda or diet tonic water. Drinking some sparkling water in between a couple glasses of wine, beer or punch can be a great strategy.
- Mingle AWAY from the food! Standing beside a big bowl of pretzels, chips or pigs in a blanket can really throw a monkey wrench into your “maintain don’t gain” efforts. Instead, prepare a plate and stand AWAY from buffet table and snack bowls!
- Pre-game meal! Eat a salad or something light and healthy before you go. Tell yourself that you really don't NEED to eat anything, but you have the freedom to sample those truly amazing foods that someone has thoughtfully and lovingly made, and especially the ones that only show up at the holidays. And, definitely don't starve yourself all day in preparation for the party.
- Cut yourself off! Make up your mind ahead of time when you will call it quits and stop eating, such as "I'm done at 7 PM." This strategy can prevent the continuous “just because it’s there” munching, saving you hundreds of calories!
- Stay positive and enjoy the holidays! It is about progress, not perfection! No one is “perfect” all of the time. Remember, to say, “It’s no big deal,” and start your next day back on track! An early morning workout and light (ideally, veggie-loaded) breakfast is the perfect "re-start!"
What about those food gifts you receive?
- Great! A gift box of candy...now what? Pick a time during the day to slowly savor and enjoy one or two pieces. Repeat the next day, but only pick 1 or 2 pieces per day - it will last a lot longer too!
- Donate to others! It's the perfect time of year to share and give unopened boxes of candy, popcorn tins, salami and cheese to local food drives!
- Nut sense! Nuts are a great healthy snack…but portion size is still important. Count out one ounce of your favorite nuts on a napkin and put the container away (up on a high shelf and out of sight). Enjoy them slowly, along with some veggies and a fresh or dried fruit.
- Plan ahead. Gently hint that next year you’d prefer something different. Try this: “Did you hear about the amazing California oranges you can order this time of year? I would give anything to have a supply of those arrive at my door!”
What to take to the holiday party when you have NO time to plan?
- Saved by the salad! A salad, loaded with fresh ingredients, is a fantastic dish to take to a party. There are so many varieties you can quickly throw together (like the Easy Greek Salad or the Massaged Kale Salad). If you are really in a hurry, you can even hit the salad bar at your local store or a nearby build-your-own-salad restaurant for the ingredients. Many at the party will be secretly relieved that you brought something healthy and delicious!
- You can't go wrong with a veggie tray! Veggies, accompanied by a delicious and nutritious dip, are always welcome.
- Delicious party dip! Hummus is a crowd-pleaser, and when served with veggies and/or pita chips it's nutritionally superior to those high-fat sour cream dips.
- Fruit salads and kabobs! Get creative - everything is more fun when eaten on a stick!
- Charcuterie! Don't forget about charcuterie boards! It doesn't take much time to put together a beautiful display, loaded with a variety of complementary REAL foods!
With a little planning, impress your guests and fellow party-goers with these super delicious snack ideas:
- Middle Eastern Nachos
- Layered Mediterranean Dip
- Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus
- Spiced Mixed Nuts
- Fiesta Spiced Popcorn
- Almond Butter Bites
- Seven Layer Dip
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
So much to do and so little time...
- Draw names for family gifts! This may be the greatest stress buster ever invented! If it's too late for this year, try making this suggestion for next year!
- “White Elephant” gift exchange! Re-gift gently used items that can still be enjoyed by someone else. ALWAYS FUN and sure to bring on lots of laughter!
- Simplify your gifts. Cooking or camping gadgets, books, DVDs, board games, or gift certificates. How about all the ingredients to a recipe from Eat Real America, along with a membership or a cookbook? Of course, we may be biased, but we both think this is a GREAT idea!
- Collect for a charity or needy family. There is no better way to appreciate the holiday -- and a fantastic way to get together, bringing “toys for tots” instead of gifts for each other.
Exercise “Sneaks” during the holidays:
- Maintain the habit no matter what! Keep the same frequency of your exercise routine, but simply reduce the minutes, if needed, for the extra time you need. This will make getting back to your full routine much easier.
- Mornings rule. Take advantage of consistent morning workouts to counteract all the evening activities that will fill up your crazy schedule.
- Schedule it! Make it as important as a doctor’s appointment (because it is)!
- Something is better than nothing. Your attitude is everything…remember, progress, not perfection. Even just 10 minutes boosts your metabolism for hours! 10+10+10. Keep in mind that just 10 minutes in the morning, 10 at lunch, and 10 after dinner adds up to 30. Many experts now believe it’s equally effective as 30 minutes all at one time!
- Reap the benefits! Not only will exercise help you offset the added calories during this time...it helps decrease stress, improve sleep and enhance mental health, which we all need an extra dose of during the holidays!
This holiday season, try to manage all three of these areas…eating, exercise and stress!
What are YOU going to do to stay healthy and happy this holiday season?